Free Fun With Words Packet

Free Fun With Words Packet - 10 activities to focus on spelling and critical thinking skills

Don’t you just love Spring? The weather is nicer, the birds are chirping, and the flowers are blooming. I put together this Fun with Words packet that is all about Spring. It contains 10 different activities all focused around a set of 20 spring words. Some of the activities are designed to help with spelling, others help with vocabulary, and a few help with critical thinking skills. To get your free packet, subscribe to our News Letter. In the News Letter you will receive our latest posts, deals, giveaways and freebies. Sign up below!

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SchoolhouseTeachers.com – Review

 

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Old School HouseI am excited to announce that I am now an official member of The Schoolhouse Review Crew! One of the first things that I was able to review is a product that I had been contemplating purchasing for a while now, SchoolhouseTeachers.com

AJ and I were given a Yearly Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  There is so much to explore, that even after two weeks of using it, I don’t think I have uncovered half of the wonderful classes and programs that are available.

What is SchoolhouseTeachers.com?

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is an online product with downloadable, printable elements as well as online classes. It is a collection of over 100 different courses ranging from math and grammar to film making and violin. Classes are available  for every age from preschool all of the way through high school. There are classes and resources for mom too. Resources for mom include planners,  homemaking classes, and even menus.
 
The classes are done at your own pace, and one membership covers your entire family for all of the courses that you wish to take. It could serve as a full year of homeschool, or a great supplement. 

We used the website on my PC laptop. The site loaded quickly and was fairly easy to navigate. Once you click on the course you want to take, you are usually taken to a page with all of the lessons  hyperlinked and ready for you to start on whatever lesson you are looking for.  A few of the courses I looked at didn’t list all of the courses on one page, in those courses I had to click through a couple of pages to go back to the beginning lessons of the course. It didn’t make the navigation any harder, but it did take longer to get to the lesson I wanted. 

I did most of the site navigation when we used my computer,  but AJ  used her Kindle Fire to watch some of the sign language videos on her own. It was great that she could watch the video lessons and practice even away from the computer. 

Most of the courses require typical school supplies like; pencils, notebooks, and paper. There are a great deal of printable elements in the courses that I looked at, mostly worksheets, notes, and lapbook pieces.   

How did we use it?

With so many different options available I began looking around the site. There are really online learning courses for just about anything you can think of. While I was clicking around I found so many amazing things. I found math lessons that will be a great supplement in a few weeks when we move to a new topic, I found an amazing lapbook for the Gift of the Magi that we will be reading in a few weeks, and then I found the Dailies tab.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review
Under the Dailies tab there are numerous daily lessons. There are daily lessons in math, copywork, spelling, geography, and so much more. I really liked this section because the lessons were short and easy. I decided to pick two of the Daily lessons for AJ to work on.

Online Learning

Daily Puzzlers

The first course AJ started was Daily Puzzlers. The idea is simple. You print off a list of letters and cut them out. Then each day you are given a list of a few of those letters that you will be working with. 
Using different clues you make words with the letter tiles that were printed out. For example, AJ was given the letters : T L E T L I and given the clue “Make a word meaning allow.” Her job was to use the tiles to spell the word LET. Then she was told to add or take away letters to make a new word.
I expected the first puzzle to be simple for her, but it wasn’t. She had a lot of fun, but it became obvious that we need to work on reasoning skills. I had to really talk her through the thinking process for the first two puzzles. The first day we did three puzzles, and she wanted to do even more. The next day I saw a great improvement on her ability to think through the puzzles. I still had to talk her through a few steps but overall she was doing the puzzles mostly on her own.
These Daily Puzzlers help with spelling, vocabulary, reasoning, and thinking skills. The best part is that AJ enjoys doing them. She even wanted to “play the new letter game” over the weekend. Language arts is her weakest subject, so if there is something she wants to do that will help her to improve, I am all for it! She has already asked to keep doing the Daily Puzzlers, so I think it will be an activity that we add as a part of her morning work.

Online Learning

I printed the letters on pink card stock and used a piece of blue card stock for her workspace. When she is not using the letters they are stored in a Ziploc bag. I then stored everything in a small folder.

Daily Grammar 6/7

The second course I had AJ work on was Daily Grammar for sixth and seventh grade. I had a hard time deciding where to place AJ in the grammar course. She is in sixth grade, but I was afraid the 6/7 course might be too difficult. After looking at the fifth grade course I decide to try out the higher level. 

Old School House

The idea for Daily Grammar is brilliant! Each week you have just one sentence. Each day throughout the week you use the same sentence to practice different elements of grammar.

  • Monday – You identify the part of speech for each word in the sentence.
  • Tuesday – You label the functioning parts of the sentence including things like; subjects, predicates, direct objects, and indirect objects.
  • Wednesdays – You identify the clauses, sentence type, and purpose.
  • Thursday – You fix capitalization and punctuation.
  • Friday – You diagram the sentence.
A lot of the topics were difficult for AJ, and admittedly myself as well. The best part is that for each day there is a note page that explains everything in detail about the topic. On Monday you grab Monday’s notes and start identifying the parts of speech. If you come to a word that you don’t know how to label you can go through the notes and figure out your answer.
The first week was very difficult! I couldn’t figure out why some of the answers weren’t making sense. Then I realized that there was a typo on the worksheet. Once we fixed the typo things were easier.

Tuesday’s work was by far the hardest because it contained things that AJ hadn’t learned before.

Old School House

We decided to use Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s work as a way to learn new material. We used the answer key and the notes to learn why the sentence was marked the way it was.

It just takes a few minutes a day, and already she is learning so much!

What did we think?

We both LOVE SchoolhouseTeachers.com! It is flexible since there are so many different classes available. We plan to continue to use the website throughout the rest if the school year. I think I could easily use this website as an entire year’s curriculum for AJ. The amount of resources it places at your fingertips is amazing. I am already looking into some courses that AJ can take next year.
The only draw back I see is that there isn’t a way to save what courses you are working on. Each time you log on you have to click through to find the course you want to use. Overall, I feel it is more than worth the price!
Are you looking for an inexpensive supplement to your homeschool?

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SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

Thanksgiving Copywork Review – Now Even Better

Thanksgiving Copywork of Bible Verses - 144 pages, 5 styles, perfect for handwriting practice! Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. Everyone is starting to think of Christmas and the holiday traditions are beginning. Last year around this time I was given the opportunity to review Thanksgiving Copywork by Amy Blevins (you can find her at Homeschool Encouragement among other places.) and AJ really enjoyed it. So this year I started to print off a few pages for AJ to complete, then I found out that the Thanksgiving Copywork had been revamped. Amy graciously gave me a copy of the new version to review.

What is Thanksgiving Copywork?

Thanksgiving Copywork is a 144 page e-book full of pages of scripture verses that focus on thankfulness for your child to copy. All of the verses are from the English Standard Version. So they are easy for kids to understand. 
The best part of this new version is that you don’t only get the verses in manuscript or print, you get the verses 5 different ways. Each verse is written in; lined print, lined D’Nealian, lined cursive, regular print, and regular cursive. I love that it is available in so many different ways. You can use it with all of your kids at the same time. At the bottom of each page there is a fun picture for your child to color.

What we thought.

The new version is even better than before. My only complaint for the previous one was that it was only available in print. That is no longer the case. Now I am able to have AJ practice a variety of different ways. The passages vary in length so I can pick appropriately based on how much time we have. She still enjoys coloring the pictures after she is finished and showing off her work. My favorite part is that while she is practicing her penmanship, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar, she is learning God’s word. We all need to be reminded to give thanks, and these copywork pages bring the subject to life in a simple fun way. 

Where can you get a copy?

You have two options. First you can purchase the Thanksgiving Copywork e-book for only $3.99. Or if you are interested in more than 1 e-book, you can purchase a subscription to Homeschool Copywork where you will have access to hundreds of copywork pages and artist studies. This is a great value! 
Homeschool Copywork Membership Sign-Up

Jump In!

Writing is the most dreaded subject in our homeschool, AJ hates to write. She not only loathes the physical act of writing, but the thinking process as well. I have tried a few different programs with her and most of them just didn’t click. When I had the opportunity to review Jump In: A Workbook for Reluctant and Eager Writers, I was excited yet cautious to get my hopes up.

Jump In is a two year writing program designed for middle school students created by Sharon Watson. The set contains a 248 page workbook for the students with step by step directions, and a teacher’s manual. The 80 page teacher’s manual contains a great deal of information about how to help your student get the most out of this program and an additional one year writing program that uses daily writing prompts. It also contains the answer keys to different skills in the workbook.

When we first received the books I took an evening and read through the entire teacher’s manual. The manual was actually interesting to read and gave detailed examples on how to use the program.  The best part was that the program is flexible. There was not a section that said you had to do writing 5 days a week or for an hour a day. It was up to me to decide how to implement the writing program. After reading the manual I learned that I didn’t need to do much teaching. Most of the work would be on AJ’s shoulders. The manual gave detailed examples on how to grade the different types writings and how to help the student proof read. For each type of writing there is a section that shows how to earn an A or a B paper all the way down to an F paper. I felt the grading section was very helpful even though we don’t usually use grade in our homeschool. It helped to put my expectations in check as I have been expecting too much when it comes to AJ’s writing.

We started off with the one year writing program that is included in the teacher’s manual, 10- Minute Writing Plunges. Listed in the book there are four different writing prompts for each week of the school year. Each day the student is given the prompt and has to write about it for 10 minutes. The writing is not graded, and on the fifth day of the week the assignment is to edit and polish one of the prompts from the week. We didn’t get off to a good start. I started the timer and left AJ alone to write, but she only wrote one sentence in the 10 minutes because she spent the rest of the time “thinking”. I decided the idea of 10 minutes was not going to work for AJ and I ended up changing the directions to a number of sentences she had to write instead. The prompts were fun and once I got rid of the time limit AJ did a great job. The prompts got her thinking and she wrote some fairly good compositions.

After a few weeks of using the 10- Minute Writing Plunges, we started on the workbook. AJ loved the fact that it was full of colorful writing and pictures and that the font was big enough for her to read easily.  She was excited to see how short the lessons were, but that they didn’t seem watered down. The first few lessons in the workbook only took her about 15 minutes each to complete. At first I wondered if it was enough writing. After a few days I saw her go from filling out lists about her favorite things to looking closely at writing examples and finally to learning how to write an introduction and conclusion.

While the daily lessons are short, they are practical, sequential, and make going to the next lesson fairly easy. Throughout the program students will learn the following types of writing;  prewriting skills, opinions,  persuasion, exposition, description, narration, and poetry. In the back of the workbook there is a section called Your Locker. This section contains helpful hints and checklists for each type of writing. The student uses this section of the book throughout the program to help proofread and polish their writing.

Overall, we love this program so far. Writing is still not AJ’s favorite subject, but with Jump In it is a little easier. From the two units we have completed so far I feel it is fair to say that using this program will help AJ to become a better writer. The lessons are short enough to hold her interest and there is not a lot of busy work.  There are so many different writing options that I don’t think AJ will get board with this program. I went in to this review excited yet cautions, but after using the program for a while I think we have found a great writing program that will help my reluctant writer not only learn to write, but learn to enjoy it a little bit as well. We will continue with this writing program next year and until we finish it.

Jump In is also available from Apologia and can be purchased as a set for $40. You can also view a sample on the website as well.

The writers for Home and School Mosaic reviewed three different writing programs from Sharon Watson, including two programs designed for high school students. Click on the graphic below to see the other reviews.

Thanksgiving Copywork Review

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I was recently given the opportunity to review four different products created by Amy over at Homeschool Encouragement.  I have looked over all of the products and they all look great.  I can’t wait to start working on the Christmas Advent book that helps to put Christ back into the Christmas season! Today I will be focusing on the Thanksgiving Copy work for Children.

Thanksgiving Copywork for Children is a downloadable book filled with 27 different Bible verses about being thankful. All of the verses are written in the English Standard Version and have plenty of space for copywork. Some verses can even be copied twice. The lengths of the verses are varied, from a single sentence to verses that are more than three sentences.

The pages are outlined in a fun fall color with a picture for your child to color on each page. They printed out beautifully in both color and in black and white. It was designed to help celebrate Thanksgiving all month long.

Copywork is something that we don’t usually do at our house. I have to admit that since AJ hates to write so much, I have stayed away from it. The more I read about copywork though, the more I have wanted to try it. There are so many benefits on top of improving her penmanship.

 

How did we use it?

I looked at the different verses that there were and decided to pick a short verse to start out with. I expected a fight when I told her she had to copy the verse, but I didn’t get one. The first thing she said was, “So, all I have to do is copy the verse twice and then I get to color it?” Since the font throughout the book is in manuscript I decided to have her copy the verse once that way and then once in cursive. She did a great job and then told me that we should do it more often because it was “kind of fun.” I told her to go ahead and put the page on the fridge but she didn’t want to. She told me that she worked too hard on it and that it needed to go in her binder under the Bible tab. For someone who doesn’t like to write to say, “it was kind of fun” was a huge deal! She already has the verse she is going to copy tomorrow.

What I liked

  • It helps to keep the focus on God by using Bible verses. By copying the verse she was also able to memorize it.
  • The Bible version used is kid friendly and makes it easy to understand.
  • There was plenty of space. AJ writes big and a lot of time runs out of room when filling out worksheets. Even after writing the verse twice there were 2 lines left.
  • The font used is clean and easy to read. Sometimes when I print of pages for her to work on her cursive the font is hard to read, that was not the case. 
  • They can be used ALL year. Even though they were designed to be used around Thanksgiving, the verses can and should be applied all year long.
  • It was writing practice that she enjoyed.
  • The pictures were fun for AJ to color.

What I didn’t care for

  • The only thing that I would change is to have the copywork in cursive instead of manuscript, but as of the writing of this post, the cursive version is in the works!

Where can you get one?

Head on over to Homeschool Encouragement to purchase your copy for the low price of only $1.99. While you are there be sure to check out Amy’s blog. It is full of useful information, product reviews, and great giveaways.

Find Amy from Homeschool Encouragement on:

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 I received the above mentioned product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not guaranteed. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own, your results and or opinions may vary.

I was recently interviewed by Sarah over at Blue Shutters check out the interview here!

Writing with a Reluctant Writer

 

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I don’t know about anyone else but my 9 year old hates to write for school. She loves to doodle, make shopping lists and copy her favorite books but don’t ask her to write for school. There will be tears and attitude issues. She has a ton of ideas but always tries to change things up to write the least amount possible.

Last year she worked on Writing in Action levels A and B and I think she learned a lot. It breaks up writing into small steps and doesn’t force a lot of writing at one time. This year she will complete volumes C and D. The first unit was all about descriptive writing. She had to go outside and write down what she felt, heard, saw and smelled. Then she had to come inside and write all about it. She really liked the process and her finished composition ended up being the first work sample that she turned into her teacher.

Writing is the one subject that we take step by step. We usually work on her compositions for the full 40 minutes, and sometimes even longer.  I have found that dry erase markers make everything better when it comes to writing. She makes a story web on the small dry erase board and then writes her first draft from there. The thesaurus is her best friend! She loves to look up words and find a better words to replace them with. She just learned how to use it last year, and now whenever we write she gets it without being told.

Along with the writing in her composition, there is a lot of writing in the literature program as well. I don’t always make her write everything down. Sometimes we will discuss the questions and answers, sometimes she writes them, and other times I let her type them. We are quite away into the literature program, it is something we do daily. We just finished the poetry unit and I would like to share the poem that she wrote. She had to write a poem that taught a lesson of some type and she decided to write the following.

Bath Time
Once there was a little girl who didn’t want to take a bath
She thought the water would gobble her up
So she wouldn’t take a bath for 40 days
And her skin turned a million colors of gray
Peanut butter stuck to her hands
Mud stuck to her feet
Ticks climbed and scratched her ears
Spiders crept out of her nose
She smelled like rotten eggs
And her friends had to hold their nose
No one wanted to play with her
Until one day her friends got a hose
Her hands were no longer sticky
Her feet were sparkly clean
Her skin went back to tan
Her friends were no longer mean
She decided it was better to take a bath
The water didn’t gobble her up
And now she smelled like flowers
So her friends played with her for hours
I think that she did a good job. Last year poetry was a hard subject because she is a very literal thinker. It has been a slow process letting her know that she can write things that don’t make sense and that she has to have imagination when reading and writing poetry. I look forward to more poems from her in the future. Good luck to all of you with reluctant writers.